Free Range…Tomatoes?

Free Range…Tomatoes?

I’m not a fan of tomato cages. While they are quite effective at reining your sprawling queens in, they also make the tasks of picking off pests, wilted leaves or sometimes even fruit, laborious. I know I’m in the minority on this matter.

Everyone I know cages their tomatoes. They are perfectly happy with their arrangement. I am perfectly content with mine. It’s just a personal preference on my part.

I’ve taken to using the same fence method that I use for melons, and I’m quite satisfied with it. It is simply straight rows of stakes with chicken wire, hog wire, or whatever wire I have handy at the time, tied to the stakes.



I plant my tomatoes on both sides of the fence and tie them to the fencing as they grow. In this way I am able to get to the middle of my plants at any given time. I don’t have to wonder if there is fruit somewhere in the middle of that mass of leaves and flowers because I can see clearly to the main stem.

They fly! They have to be caged. Unless you want to go into the bosky zones and fish them out?

The Parsnip has taken to calling them my “free range” tomatoes. Which usually leads to musings of why the chickens must be caged but the tomatoes roam free? Should I try to explain (again) that the chickens are¬†Ameraucana and that they fly? If we don’t want to fish them out of the woods everyday, we’re going to need a pen. I’m not going in to it again. Let him scoff. He’s a scoffer.

Also good for melons!

My tomato solution is also a very good melon trellis. I use heavier wire and stakes for the melon bed, but it’s basically the same set up with longer stretches of fencing. I’m using a test stretch of the same set up with one bed of cucumbers this year as well. If it works, I may retire my tee pee set up next year. We’ll see. I’m loathe to change something that has worked, but I see merit in having more room, which the fencing system allows.

I’ve never been able to plant stuff in the middle of my tee pees like some people do. The vines of the cucumbers have made it impossible to harvest anything in the middle. One year I only planted on one side of the tee pee and I was able to plant lettuce in the middle, but that gave me half the lemon cucumbers from that bed. After that, I made the decision that it was worth it to me to have twice the cukes and the lettuce planted elsewhere.

I want to remind you to check out the Ark of Taste site. We’re taking back taste, one tomato at a time! = ) I just made that up, it is kind of catchy though.

Here are the tomatoes that are on the list of endangered species.

How many of these are you growing this year? I have seeds for eleven of them and plants of six, if you want to try any, let me know, I’ll hook you up. = )

I have:

  • Amish Paste
  • Aunt Ruby’s German Green (I also have the cherry version)
  • Cherokee Purple
  • German Pink
  • Livingston’s Globe
  • Livingston’s Golden Queen
  • Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter
  • Red Fig
  • Sheboygan
  • Sudduth Strain Brandywine
  • Valencia

Have a free range paisley day~KeriAnne

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One Response »

  1. Thanks for sharing your tomato wall
    I was debating if I wanted to use to rows of fencing with the tomatoes in the middle however you decided that one for me. How close do you plant your tomatoes using this method?
    My plants are going to be in containers due to our horrible soil and invasive weed issues.
    Also we recently got some ameraucana peeps ~ didn’t know they flew YIKES
    Have a glorious day

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